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Commercial Pilot (CPL (A))

What do you do as a commercial pilot with a CPL (A) license?

Commercial pilots with a CPL (A) license navigate cargo and passenger aircrafts which are flown by a single pilot. Commercial pilots may also fly as co-pilots in aircrafts which require two pilots. The tasks include preparation and completion of the flight, as well as organisational tasks. A commercial pilot's activities range from checking the weather reports to precisely navigating the aircraft and creating the necessary reports.

Which requirements do commercial pilots with CPL (A) license need to fulfill?

Commercial pilots require a valid CPL (A) or ATPL (A) license. Additionally, your aero-medical suitability will be assessed prior to professional practice. Further requirements vary depending on the employer. These can include:

  • Fluent German and English
  • A university entrance exam or similar
  • A physical size between 165cm and 198cm
  • Good sight (critical values vary)
  • Valid aeronautical radio certificate

How can I become a commercial pilot with CPL (A) license?

The CPL (A) license for commercial pilots can be obtained at flight schools which are either run privately or by affiliated airlines. To be admitted to a flight school, you need to pass several aptitude tests. Prospective commercial pilots learn the theoretical background in classes and practise flying in simulators. Depending on whether the training is completed in modules or continuously, you will need to complete 200 or 150 flight hours respectively by the end of the licensing. The training period takes 10 - 12 months and is not remunerated. Costs for flight school, examinations and landing fees need to be paid by trainee pilots. The total costs vary according to the different providers.

Upon completion of the training courses, the CPL (A) license can be obtained by sitting a theoretical and practical exam. The license is valid for 24 months. In order to renew it, you need to fulfill various conditions such as a particular number of flying hours, take-offs and landings.

The CPL (A) license can be obtained at the German Army too. This makes it significantly cheaper than training at a flight school, but also more demanding: a civil working life is only possible after fulfilling the service obligation.

What can commercial pilots with CPL (A) license expect in professional life?

Commercial pilots are active in scheduled air services and charter flights or they fly employees and goods for companies with their own fleet of aircrafts. Pest control and patient transport are further potential tasks of commercial pilots. There are further occupations in the German Army, at flight schools, manufacturers for air- and spacecrafts or in research and development in the field of engineering sciences.

Commercial pilots need to be highly flexible as they need to work at night, on Sundays and public holidays. Work routines will constantly test your physical and psychological resilience. Dry atmosphere in the cabin, switching between time and climate zones, responsibility for human lives and power of concentration over a long period of time make the occupation of a commercial pilot very demanding.

Commercial pilots need to constantly stay up-to-date on the latest technical and legal developments. Numerous additional trainings such as flight instructor certification or instrument flight certification offer the opportunity of advancement. It is also possible under certain circumstances to convert your license into an ATPL (A) license.

Proportionate to the strenuous training and high level of job responsibility, earning prospects of commercial pilots are great. However, salaries do vary from employer to employer. Gross average wages come to around 4,500 Euros (last checked 2010)  and increase according to experience and length of company affiliation.

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